Small business reviews – how they can help you

You run a business. You should probably monitor your business reviews online.

Business reviews

Business reviews come in all shapes and sizes online now. Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmhhacker/8025930782/

We all know about Yelp. Many know about Angie’s list. But can you name the other 100+ business reviews’ sites? That gets very difficult, very quick. And the problem gets worse as your business and customer base grows.

So how can you stay on top of your business reviews, and respond to them when needed?

Google Places now has an aggregation system for business reviews. This will include hundreds of sites across the web (although not Yelp). And importantly, it will include more detailed information, such as your replies to any reviews posted.

Most startups want Google to be a massive source (if not the main source) of traffic and leads. Everyone wants to get “viral growth”. Getting buzz and good write-ups and strong inbound links, combined, lead to a better Google ranking. And with all of these reviews getting indexed more regularly and thoroughly, people searching for solutions that you offer are more likely to see what customers have to say about you.

Side note: Common wisdom is trending in the direction that Google+ may be better for business than Facebook.

Mike Blumenthal has a nice write-up of Google’s Places small business reviews features, rolling out now. Give it a read to think about how it could benefit you. Some quick thoughts:

  • Definitely claim or create your place on Google Places.
  • Create your own dashboard on the system, and set yourself a calendar reminder to visit it regularly (say, once per month).
  • Set up a Google alert on your business’ name.
  • Respond to reviews, positive or negative, promptly wherever appropriate.
  • Remember that responses will get indexed on Google+ (hint: SEO thinking applies here…)
  • Stay tuned for further updates on it. As Mike helpfully points out:

For the first time since the dashboard was created Google is providing small business owners and their managers a reason to return to the dashboard periodically.

The rollout, one in a string of several recent upgrades to the new dashboard, indicates that not only is Google able and committed to adding new functionality to the dashboard on an ongoing basis, it signals that they are prepared to provide significant ongoing value in doing so.

The Places Dashboard has long been a once and done experience for SMBs. The analytics were the only reason for regular visits.

But now there’s more coming. This could be a great boost for a lot of small businesses looking to boost their organic traffic and public profile.

Posted in business, marketing

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